The percentage decline in "prescriptions filled for opioids at a strength of 50 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per day or more" among active duty Service members from April 2017 to July 2021, according to the Military Health System (MHS).
For beneficiaries who are not on active duty and are under the age of 65, the decline for the same period was 47%. And for non-active-duty beneficiaries 65 or older, the decline was 32%, according to data from the MHS Information Platform maintained by the Program Executive Office, Defense Healthcare Management Systems.
The MHS is also reporting fewer opioids prescribed to people in another risk category - those who are co-prescribed opioids and benzodiazepines, such as Valium or Xanax. The combination of those two types of medications can be dangerous and increase the risk of an overdose.
MHS beneficiaries who are on long-term opioid therapy - defined as taking opioids 90 days or more out of the past 180 days, also has declined.
The declines are good news, but should be seen in the context of a larger effort across the MHS to improve the quality of pain management.